When it comes to modern smartphones, there is no shortage of ways to communicate. With wireless data speeds that match – and often surpass – your home Internet speeds, it makes just about any form of communication via mobile viable and possibly even preferable.
Voice calls, text messaging, instant messaging (IM), email and video calls are some of the more common ways to communicate from a smartphone. But those are just the main categories. New social networks are sprouting what seems like every week, as well as new messaging platforms, like iMessage which straddles the bounds between SMS and IM. And some individuals aim to redefine email and create a new and better way to correspond on a more professional level.
However, there is a pressing issue that is only growing in importance with respect to how many different methods of communication are available. With so many options, it's as if everyone I know and talk to regularly prefers something different.
My mother – and most of my family, for that matter – prefers to call over sending a quick text message. My sister likes to use iMessage when most of my iPhone-toting friends don't even know what iMessage is. Some coworkers and colleagues prefer Gtalk while others just get chatty in Twitter direct messages. Sometimes we'll randomly exchange a few emails instead. Most of my friends just text message, but sometimes they'll send me a message on Facebook. And then, on rare occasion, someone will ask me to sign into Skype to talk.
While having so many different communication platforms at my disposal has some sort of cool factor buried beneath all the clutter, it can become overwhelming pretty quickly, especially when more than one person tries to get in touch with me at once. Unfortunately, that used to happen entirely too often. I would be caught trying to end one conversation when another would start and, before I knew it, I was juggling a handful of conversations between various platforms, clients and networks, and sometimes across multiple devices. (This is actually one of those times that having more than one active phone plays to my advantage.)
There are few things in this world that are more nerve-wracking than balancing multiple conversations across different applications and services from a smartphone. Most smartphones are sufficiently capable of handling the workload, but the physical act of switching back and forth to cater to everyone else's preferences is repetitive and frustrating.
Because of this, I have had to force myself to only use specific services and divide my usage between devices.
A majority of the time, I ignore phone calls. As I explained in the past, they're disruptive to the work that I do. They're only convenient to the person placing the call. Because of this, I ignore calls and will text back or return the call (where applicable, I can't text a land line) when I get a chance. If it's the boss or a family member I don't talk to often and think it may be an emergency, you better believe I answer. But since we're in the digital age, text-based communication is 100 percent more convenient and efficient for me.
Due to carrying two phones and having a handful of numbers that no one can seem to get straight, incoming text messages were all over the place. My mom would text me once on my primary line and on my Google Voice line the next day. And everyone was texting different numbers. So, one by one, I transitioned everyone to my Google Voice number and have tried to completely quit using carrier messaging. I can now reply from whichever phone is more readily available, or I can reply from my computer or tablets if need be. I do the majority of my Google Voice messaging from Android considering the iOS counterpart is dated and painstakingly under developed.
When it comes to instant messaging, I only reply to people who use at least one of two services: Google Talk or Facebook Messenger. Even for video chatting, I use Google Voice or create a Google+ Hangout. I have completely cut Skype out of my repertoire. On occasion, I still use iMessage for my sister and mother. Over anything else, Google Talk is my most preferred method. Unfortunately, not nearly enough friends use Talk, so I balance the load between Google Voice and Talk.
The only other correspondence I do from my smartphone is Twitter and email. I do a great deal of tweeting from my smartphone, but I only handle emails when I'm away from my iPad or laptop. The majority of my email is done through the iPad. All Facebook, Google+ and other networking is done either from the iPad, Nexus 7 or my MacBook.
It all got to be too much to handle for me. I was using entirely too many services to communicate with a few dozen people. So I cut back and forced myself to quit using several services for the sake of my own sanity. But I'm curious, readers. Do you use as many services as possible? Or have you, like me, cut back and consolidated the services you use to communicate?